Let me start by saying I believe there is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to nutrition and diet. I don't believe in diets, they just don't work long term and many are not backed by science. This is one of the first things we talk about in our Tap into Food Freedom Program, it is why you should ditch diets for good!
When its comes to fasting or in particular Time Restricted Feeding (TRF) the science is just too good to overlook. I see many benefits, for me personally and for some of my clients. Let me tell you these benefits go way beyond weight loss!
TRF is a form of intermittent fasting which limits food intake to a certain number of hours each day. TRF may go against what we have been taught or heard about breakfast being the most important meal of the day or eat small meals every 2-3 hours.
The benefits include digestive ease; eating less frequently can assist digestive health. It supports detoxification of your organs, may help increase focus, clarity and cognitive function, help muscle building and repair.
There are also hormonal benefits, your hormones decide whether your body is going to burn more fat or shut down fat burning.
TRF is not a diet, it works best when you are flexible and listen to your body. I don't have set days that I fast, I don't set any sort of expectation or feel like I am restricting myself (even though it is called Time Restricted Feeding). The choice comes from a place of love, self care and giving my body what it needs. Sometimes I need to eat as soon as I wake up, other times I don't eat until 11am.
I have found a 12 hour fasting and 12 hour eating period a good place to start and can help optimise your metabolism.
A few important points:
What you eat, after a fasting period is extremely important. This first meal provides your body with fuel (energy) and kick starts your metabolism.
I always ensure this meal contains high quality whole foods (not a muffin or croissant from the cafe), including a good source of protein & fat to avoid an insulin spike. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of blood glucose. Lowering your insulin levels means the body stores less fat and blood glucose doesn’t crash after a meal.
Ensure you first train your ‘fasting muscle’ before attempting long periods of fasting. Training your fasting muscle is extremely important! This is one of the reasons why intermittent fasting diets fail, along with being overly strict and not breaking your fast correctly.
Once you have broken your fast, it is very important to listen to your body hunger signals to ensure you are fueling your body sufficiently and eat until you are satisfied.
It is important to consume water while in a fast period.
When I am in a fast period I abstain from food with the exception of a bulletproof coffee with MCT oil. Natural fats such as coconut oil, butter and ghee can increase metabolic rate during a fast period without interrupting autophagy, keeping the body in a fat-burning state.
TRF should not be attempted under the following circumstances:
when preparing for pregnancy, during pregnancy or breastfeeding;
during periods of high stress and/or adrenal dysfunction;
if you are diabetic or taking certain medications, including insulin;
if you have poor blood sugar control;
after high intensity training or exercise;
disordered eating or binge eating tendencies.
When done correctly TRF is a fast, simple and sustainable way to optimise your health, fat loss and athletic performance.
1. Chaix A et al., 2014. Time Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges. Cell Metabolism, 20, 6, 991-1005.
2. St-Onge M et al., 2017. Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 135, 25, 00-00.
3. Varady, K, Bhutani, S, Church, E, Klempel, M. Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90 (5), 1138–1143, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28380 (2009)
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Functional Health Canberra does not treat, diagnose or cure any condition. Information is not intended to replace medical professional advice.
Always consult your physician before any significant diet and lifestyle changes.